Monday, September 22, 2014

What My Twenties Taught Me

I say goodbye to my twenties tomorrow. I'm not really upset about aging or feeling old. I'm just a bit sentimental and so even though I'm  ready for all that my thirties have in store--mainly oh so many memories to make my husband and daughter, I still may shed a tear or two. I'm leaving behind a decade filled to the brim with love, laughter, and lots of learning.

My Twenties Taught Me:

How to Laugh
Of course I laughed long before I hit my blessed twenties, but it was in my twenties that I learned to really laugh. I laughed without comedy. There were times I laughed just from pure happiness or joy. I can remember those moments very clearly--whether they happened on my college campus, in the car with the boy I first loved, or in a church worshiping.

My brother and I really came into our own in our sibling relationship and in our humor with one another. With him, I truly learned to laugh with everything inside of me. There is something so theraputic about laughing with my brother. I discovered this in my twenties and I will always cherish our memories and pray that I will continue to laugh with my brother. 

I learned to laugh at myself. While I still have a long way to go in this regard, I really do know the parts of me that are laughable. I know that I am dramatic, moody, judgmental, and a bit of a brat. I can be snobbish and rude. I have weird quirks. I've learned how to embrace them and laugh at them occasionally.

I've learned so much about myself over the past decade. I've stood my ground when opinons of mine were not popular in every aspect of my life. I've had the opportunity to discover what I really do think and feel about things and I've learned not to apologize for those. I know who I am and even though there are times when I struggle with feeling good about myself, I know who I am and I always work hard to get back to feeling good. Confidence, I've discovered, is just that. It's not always feeling amazing, sexy, beautiful, smart, capable, etc..It's knowing that those things are in you and knowing that you have the possibility to uncover them.

My Favorite Poker Hand
A lot of my favorite memories from my twenties involve me playing poker. It was a huge part of my life and a highlight of my life during that time. One of my best friends taught me how to play and I fell in love with the game. I became a decent player, spent many (many) late nights hoping to win a little money, but more so just enjoying the company. And yes, I even established a favorite hand. I will not tell you what it is. I might still play occasionally.

Dealing with Disappointment
Dishonest bosses, job interviews that ended in a "No thank you," friends that forget your heart and real intentions, family members that seem to care about you less and less--my twenties were filled with great opportunities and memories, but disappointment accompanied many of them.

I've learned that those things happen. Disappointment is inevitable--especially if you're a person like me with high expectations. But dealing with disappointment is the real test and a true art. 

How to Learn
This is a sad admission for me, but I really didn't know how to learn before I entered college. I used to pride myself on being an honor's English student for three years in high school without ever reading a book. I wrote the papers and participated in discussions, but I never actually did any learning. How that is even possible is beyond me. In My pre-college life as a student, I treated school like a chore. I went and did what I had to do to move on. Assignments were checklists for me. How can I do this assignment the fastest and easiest way without having to really put any effort? I always searched for the answer in textbooks without really reading the content.

Yes, this disappoints me. There is a whole lot of information I missed that I would LOVE to know and understand now. I'd love to know more about the sciences, world history, and even grammar and mechanics. I was always an A/B student and thrived on minimal effort for an acceptable grade.

 During my first semester of college, I fell flat on my face. I didn't have to attend classes and no one was keeping tabs on me in any way--so I just floated through. I received my first "F" at midterms my freshman year and I couldn't accept that. That was the beginning of my learning how to learn. Since then, I have become a seeker of knowledge and an avid reader. I love asking questions and finding answers. I thrive on education and knowledge. Nothing would thrill me more (aside from motherhood) than being a full-time life-long student. In some respects, I hope to do just that.

I Don't Do Junk Food
Except that I do do junk food. I love it. I am happiest and healthiest when I stay away from it. There were three times in my twenties where I went without junk/sugar for substantial amounts of time. Those times I was mentally and physically healthy, happy, and confident. But it's just so hard to stay away.

 Happiness for Me
In high school I discovered that I had a love of love. I loved Disney movies and romantic quotes. I was in love with the idea of love. In my twenties I learned how much happier I am when I am busy loving. I learned that through opportunities I had to surround myself with people to love, even in my work. I was just happy doing the most monotonous or low paying tasks, but I had love to give and I gave it.

When I had moments away from that love and those opportunities, I noticed the lack of joy. I am truly happiest when I am surrounded in opportunities to love other people.

Heartbreak and Goodbyes
They both hurt. They both suck. It's possible to heal from all of it. I said goodbye to my first love, or more accurately, he said goodbye to me. I lost all four of my grandparents. I saw positive pregnancy tests two different times before I ever saw the positive that would give me JaiseAnn.

With each experience, I learned something. With every loss, I gained something. It didn't even the score, and it didn't erase the hurt, but I did learn that there is no goodbye that leaves us empty handed.


I grew up knowing love. Loving my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my brother. I eventually loved my friends as well. I grew up understanding love to a point.

When I was 24 I met Zach and my life has never been the same. I loved my first love with my heart. I loved him and my heart beat faster and my hands shook. I met Zach and I loved him with my soul--as though I had known him once before. (I'm convinced I did).  At times my heart beat faster and my hands shook. But mostly, I felt like my heart was safe with him and I felt I could find rest in his arms. He unraveled me and put me back together at the same time.

 Loving Zach has taught me so much. There are really no words for what I feel for Zach and continue to feel each and every day. Our love is constantly changing and our relationship looks different from one year to the next, but my heart is at peace when I am with him. It's a calm that tells me that together is the right place to be.

If no words can describe my feelings for Zach, then there are certainly no words that describe how I feel about my daughter. Becoming a mother has been the finale of my twenties and what a fitting and perfect finale it is. I love her with all that I have. Motherhood has taught me about a lot of things, but it has mostly taught me about love. The love I have for her, the love she shows me, the love of our Father in Heaven, and the love of my husband in his role as father. It has forced parts of my heart to grow--sometimes that growth is painful, but it is always (always) beautiful.

People always remind high school students that they are in the midst of the best years of their life. I strongly disagree. While I loved high school, I have loved my twenties more. So much more.

There have been reality checks: disappointments, loss, and goodbyes. Lessons I've had to learn the hard way and challenges that I never faced when I was younger. But there have been opportunities to learn and grow. I've had more opportunities to love and make memories with people that mean the most to me. I've learned about my talents, abilities, and myself. I know what makes me happy and I know how to work to bring out the best in myself.

That's why I'm not afraid of turning thirty. If the twenties have been so amazing, why should my thirties being any different? I get to be a mom, wife, and figure out how to balance that with a little bit of Sharlee.  Bring on this new decade. I can't wait for you!

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